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Face masks are must-have accessory of London fashion week amid coronavirus panic

Virus protection — but make it fashion.

The hottest accessory at London fashion week isn’t a Barbie-sized purse, but fashionable face masks amid widespread panic over coronavirus.

Though fabric face masks can’t exactly help prevent the spread of the virus, it hasn’t stopped stylish denizens from wearing them to shows anyway.


But these aren’t your ordinary face masks of the surgical hospital variety. The fashion flock is putting their own spin on the accessory with adornments to show off a bit of personality. One attendee outside the British Fashion Council (BFC) Show Space show wore one decorated with arrows, while a pair of women donned pastel-hued versions

The BFC expects attendance at London fashion week to go down this year due to coronavirus, reports Reuters. Chinese designer Yuhan Wang opened LFW, but tells Reuters she had to cut down on looks because of delays caused by the virus. Six Chinese brands have canceled shows at Paris fashion week, Women’s Wear Daily reports, and upcoming fashion weeks in Beijing and Shanghai that were slated for March have been postponed.

London isn’t the first city where face masks have become the trending accessory. Several New York Fashion Week attendees covered their mouths last week, including stylist Marina Ingvarsson who wore a minimal black face mask outside the Michael Kors show. The trend was just as prevalent during NYFW in 2018 over flu concerns.

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The streets aren’t the only place face masks have been popping up. Designers Phillipe and David Blond featured plenty of them during their Monday runway show for the Blonds, including bedazzled, bejeweled and feathered renditions. Blancore’s Yalan Li also included one made out of white mesh during her show.

In New York, face masks have become hard to come by, too. Most shops have reported selling out of plain surgical masks as of January following the rise of coronavirus cases stateside. Prices have also skyrocketed at online stores such as Amazon as shoppers even scoop up masks for their pets.

In China, where coronavirus originated, over 5,000 new cases were confirmed in a single day, according to officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the total cases of the deadly illness in the US is now at 15 as of Thursday.